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Archive for December 4th, 2008

Sixty Seven Years Ago

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

On the morning of December 7, impotent 1941 the Japanese navy launched an attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor hoping to cripple the mighty US Navy. Later, when the Emperor addressed his people he went to great lengths to emphasize the industrial might of the United States. He even mentioned a little city, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, stating that if the Japanese industry could not out produce this steel town, then Japan could not hope to win the war.

Elsewhere in the country, the motor city was beginning to emerge as General Motors and Ford Motor Company became industry leaders. Around the country the ship yards were booming, a little tool company called Mesta Machine Works was supplying machine tools to the growing manufacturing industry, glass was king in a little towns like Jeannette, and the country was clothed by textiles made in America. As the country shifted to a war time economy, this industrial might of the United States was put to work to provide the materials needed by the country to fight this foreign aggression. To the men who fought and died during World War II, this was the country as they knew it.

Today we see a greatly different country. The Big Three Automakers have been reduced to mere remnant of what they once were. The Steel industry of Pittsburgh is all but gone, with only a few of the once mighty steel mills still standing. Textiles have all but disappeared from the United States; try to find a winter jacket made in America today. Most electronics are now made in the Far East. The industrial might of the United States is gone.

In the light of this anniversary of the day that will live in infamy, I would like to pose a question for discussion among the readers of this list. What would someone who died during WWII, perhaps more specifically the Asian theater (Pearl Harbor), think if they came back to life and saw the country as it is now?

As I have tried to point out, when these soldiers went to war, the US was an industrial giant. The US controlled major portions of industry from autos to textiles, from steel to electronics. Taking this industrial might even further, these companies also had factories in other countries, some of which we were soon to be fighting. What would these soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice say if they came back to see all of the US industrial might now located in foreign countries? What would they say if they saw their children and grandchildren driving cars made by the very country they died fighting? Would they understand times change? Would they be resentful? What would they say of all the politics and policies that allowed this to happen? Remember a few facts, when Nissan came to the United States, they were so concerned by the similarity of Nissan to Nippon they decided to be known as Dautson in the United States. Also to enter into this country, many times these Japanese companies employed vast numbers of lobbyists and public relations people to influence the politicians and the people of this country. This question could also be posed to those who died in Korea (and by extension of the conflict China) and Vietnam. For these people would also be met by a flood of products from these countries.

I hope the dear readers of the list won’t degenerate into Union bashing, Auto bashing, CEO bashing, or any other special interest bashing. If you readers and writers wish to do this, please put yourself in the shoes of those who had just one day to see the United States many years after their ultimate sacrifice. Please approach it from possible angles such as: Would those people agree that perceived quality means more than national pride of product? Would those people see a disagreement on work force politics or organization as justification to buy a product from those countries who were once mortal enemies?

Lastly, what would they say if they saw so much of our country’s debt in the hands of these same countries? Would they still feel we won any of these wars? Would they resent their sacrifice of life in light of where the country has gone industrially and economically? What would they think of the push to a global economy?